Online education, rebooted

Online education, rebooted

Can a roboticist program real human minds? Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun is working on just that. He recently told Fortune's Adam Lashinsky how:

Fortune: You've been a Google executive and Stanford professor. Where did you get the idea for Udacity, your online-courses startup?

Sebastian Thrun: In 2011 I attended a TED talk by Sal Kahn, whom I adore. He explained how his Khan Academy's math advice reached tens of millions. I was about to teach an artificial-intelligence course at Stanford that would reach 200. I suggested to [fellow teacher and Google executive] Peter Norvig we should take it online. We sent a message to 1,000 individuals about an AI class. We expected 500 to respond: 160,000 signed up.

How did the students perform?

The remote students outdid our classroom students. The best Stanford student came in No. 413. The whole exercise cost less than 60ยข a student. That made me believe it's time to try something radically new in education.